Thoughts and Opinions On Today's Important Issues

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

End Bits

They are not enough for a full BLOG but some of these stories I think are pretty interesting. In case you missed them, here they are.

JONES AND POSTMA MUST RECUSE THEMSELVES



video

Here is a clip from CBC news showing Councillor Postma attending at the big anti-Ambassador Bridge rally yesterday. Well, if you consider a rally of about 20 people to be big. So much for the so-called anti-Bridge Co. protest by "business owners and residents." It does not appear that too many people were fooled by the Mayor's and Henderson's histrionics after all if this is the best that they can do.

I understand that Councillor Jones was there as well but I did not see him on the broadcast or I would have showed his clip too.

What a clever manoeuver by the two Ward 2 Councillors so that they will not be able to vote on the Bridge Company's desire to temporarily close the private access road.

Since they have publicly identified themselves as opposed to the Bridge Company project in advance of the Council meeting, and without hearing what the Bridge Company had to say as well, a strong argument can be made that they are biased against the Bridge Company or that the Bridge Company has an apprehension of bias. Accordingly, it would seem to me that they must not participate or the Mayor and/or the Clerk should prevent them from participating in the Agenda Item at Council.

And here I thought that Council Postma was trying to be friends with the the Bridge Company. Why, she wrote on one of the BLOGs in town with respect to the Interim Control Bylaw:
  • "In terms of the Ambassador Bridge Company, the by-law was not imposed because of them. Go ahead laugh out loud – get it out of your system.

    I can see why most people think it is since exemptions are turned down in fear of precedent setting, the timing of the CIP as it compares to the Ambassador Bridge work and DRIC (Detroit River International Crossing)."
I am sure that the Bridge Co. lawyers will thank the Councillor for helping them out with what approach to take by setting out the issues so clearly.

As for me, I had better stop laughing now because my sides hurt so badly. I guess I was one of "most people" who were fooled. I feel so dumb now. It sure looked like it to me.

DEAD PEOPLE DO NOT ATTEND COUNCIL MEETINGS

I will tell you right now that I'm very upset. Here I was thinking that we're going to see another whiteboard presentation by the Mayor with respect to the damning report on Fleet operations. Remember he did that with WUC. Even then, the Mayor was forced into doing a third-party whitewash audit.

I wonder if the same thing will happen with respect to the fleet operation group. The Council Agenda states:
  • "Report No. 32 of the Audit Committee

    Mike Palanacki, Executive Director of Operation, Angela Marazita, Fleet Manager and Diana DiGirolamo, Technical Support Manager to present Council with a status of Fleet Services and particularly the contents and the recommendations of the Fleet Audit Report."

Don't you find it strange? No one from the Audit group is attending in case a Councillor has a question about the report that was done. That is most bizarre. Can it be that there is a lack of confidence in the Audit group. Why else would no one from that group attend?

I just thought of something different. Perhaps their report is so good that someone might be afraid that some Councillors might actually want to have a forensic audit done of Fleet operations to see it in fact if there were improprieties. We can't have that now can we. How many whitewash audits can the City pay for after all!

I tell you what though, I think everything is going to turn out all right. I just read part of Report 32 and here's what our ever vigilant Audit Committee stated:

  • "IV. That upon completion of the foregoing recommendations, that Lead Internal Auditor BE REQUESTED to provide a re-evaluation of the control maturity, which, during the audit process was unreliable, and at high risk, but at present is well on its way to to stability."

No worries now. Even though the Audit Report just came out, we are being told that everything "is well on its way to stability." How that is known so quickly is beyond me but who am I to argue with the all knowing City Audit Committee. No need for an outside forensic audit now.

You remember this Committee and the people on it don't you. They are the invisible ones who had so little to say on the WUC matter. I am so glad though that they have given the Lead Internal Auditor his marching orders.

MAYOR'S REPORT ON GERMANY TRIP

You have got to look hard in order to get the facts in Windsor and you have to look in the oddest places as well.

I would have thought that after a taxpayer paid trip to Germany, the Mayor owed it to people here to tell us what he accomplished. No such luck. Everything is very hush-hush very secretive. Oh, sorry, that's the norm.

However, again as is usual, you have to read to the end of every Windsor Star story in order to get relevant information. They are in the story about Air America we found out something about the German trip:

  • "Mayor Eddie Francis was in Germany a few weeks ago to explore the potential of a Frankfurt-area food distribution warehouse operation locating at the local airport.

    Company officials who met with Francis are scheduled to visit the Windsor area on Feb. 22 and 23, Francis said, to meet with various local business leaders who ship their food-related goods by air."

    Perhaps I'm reading this incorrectly but it seems to me that the Germans are coming here to take business from Windsor shippers IE they want people to use their services and facilities when shipping goods from Windsor to overseas.

    If this is correct, then how exactly did Eddie's trip help us get jobs in this city?

And in case you missed it on CKLW this morning, Eddie confirmed there is no "done deal" with the Germans. He is heading in the right direction though. That is a relief. I am so glad as well that "hopefully jobs might be brought to our region. I do know how he can get 15,000 jobs quickly but I don't think I will get a call from the Mayor on that subject.

Kind of makes you wonder why we need Council meetings and Councillors if they hear about the Mayor's trip on radio and read about it in the Star. Look at what we could save in costs and salaries to reduce taxes.

YQG

It looks like very few are getting a quick getaway from our airport. In fact, it looks like very few are even going there.

Thank goodness for Air America Logistics and its general manager Vicky Kyriaco-Wilson.

  • "Air America has also been instrumental in spinoff work at the airport -- for fuel sales, ground handling equipment, local trucking services and maintenance work.

    More than 800 aircraft movements associated with Air America occurred last year involving DC-8 jets, Boeing 727s, Boeing 737s, DC-9s and numerous other small jets.

    The company handled more than 5.4 million pounds of freight last year.

    "We're the lynchpin that keeps the cargo aspect humming over here," Kyriaco-Wilson said.

    Other changes to improve operations and finances at the local airport have been slow since the city took back control nearly a year ago from Serco Aviation. Much of the airport's finances remain largely dependent on Air America's business."

I have an idea...perhaps Vicky could operate the airport on behalf of the City. Nawwwwwww, she knows what she is doing.

BRIDGE COMPANY PRESS RELEASE RE ROAD CLOSING

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

MAINTENANCE WILL REQUIRE TEMPORARY TRAFFIC SHIFTS AT HURON CHURCH ROAD EXIT FROM AMBASSADOR BRIDGE PLAZA

WINDSOR, Ontario (February 18, 2008) – Traffic onto northbound Huron Church Road will experience temporary detours over the next few months to accommodate necessary maintenance and repair work at the Ambassador Bridge plaza.

Closing the plaza area under repair is likely to increase congestion during peak volume hours. For the safety of motorists using the bridge and to optimize traffic flow, it will be necessary to reroute access to Northbound Huron Church Road at these times.

This closure was tested last week to study the impact on traffic flow through the plaza during all hours of operation. The exit is currently open for northbound traffic.

As a result of this test, the Bridge Company hopes to be able to safely allow normal traffic flow most of the day, with detours limited to peak volume hours only. Bridge personnel will continually evaluate the impact and adjust accordingly.

Further signage will be erected to help direct tourists to their destinations, including downtown Windsor and the Windsor Casino, and additional personnel will be assigned to direct traffic as necessary.

The maintenance project is scheduled to take three months.

“We regret any inconvenience we may cause during the maintenance project, especially those tourists headed into Windsor, and will do our best to complete the project quickly,” said Dan Stamper, President of the Ambassador Bridge Company.

"It's very unfortunate that special interests seem determined to portray us as having some sort of anti-Windsor agenda, when all we are trying to do is protect the safety and efficiency of cross-border traffic,” Stamper said.

NEW CLICHÉS ANONYMOUS LOCATION SET UP IN WINDSOR

I received a very funny e-mail today from one of my readers that I thought I would share with you:

  • "The Mayor likes oft-used sayings like "you can`t put a price to it......"

    Reporter: How large of a budget have we authorized for administration?

    Francis: Again, City Council has directed the different aspects take place. And with regards to budget. I believe that City Council is saying that the lives of our residents of the City of Windsor and the quality of life and the right to a quality of life, you can`t put any price to it.

    I have an idea - how about since the Mayor is so concerned about quality of life and the fact that can be no price put on it - that the City of Windsor ante up some cash to the project should there be a difference between what the city wants and what the province and feds are willing to contribute. Should be lots of cash around since Enwin is donating $4 million, the city can afford approximately $4 million for Schwartz et al - to say nothing about the cost savings from fewer crossing guards, library closures, lessened snow removal and the sale of surplus recreation properties.

    Perhaps he could consider for future interviews another oft-used saying........."put your money where your mouth is."

CAN KWAME AND EDDIE STILL BE FRIENDS

If Mayor Kilpatrick was not having enough problems in Detroit, now he needs our Mayor's failure on the Tunnel deal to cause him even more grief. Here's what the Detroit Free Press wrote:

  • "Fiscal report shows big deficit
    It disputes claim that city will balance books
    By ZACHARY GORCHOW • FREE PRESS STAFF WRITER • February 15, 2008

    Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick has said the city will wipe out its deficit when the current fiscal year ends June 30, but the City Council's chief budget analyst has issued a report saying there's still at least $100 million worth of red ink.

    A report released this week from the council's fiscal division also notes the situation could worsen dramatically if the city fails to complete a deal to lease its half of the Detroit-Windsor Tunnel to the City of Windsor for 75 years for $75 million, a move that was supposed to be part of balancing the 2007-08 fiscal year...

    Councilman Kwame Kenyatta said the recent report confirms his suspicions that the budget was built on too many uncertainties.

    "Many of us thought the mayor's budget was more of an if-come budget than a realistic budget from the very beginning, and it's proven to be that," he said."

I guess that our Mayor's deal is one of the if-comers which apparently has not come yet!

MAJOR CHANGES IN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW FOR TRANSIT PROJECTS PROPOSED

Unfortunately, not for the border road, at least not yet.

I saw this story in the Toronto Star thanks to a reader and will just give you the summary that was set out:

  • "Environmental assessments for new transit projects will be faster and more focused under rules approved this week and expected to be law by June. Changes include:

    An assessment must be complete in six months. Now there is no limit; a transit project review takes, on average, two years.

    Public consultation is limited to 85 days. There is now no limit.

    The minister of the environment has 35 days to review and rule on a project. There is no concrete time frame at present.

    The scope is limited to environmental concerns. Right now, everything that was argued over during the municipal planning process, including how wide a dedicated bus lane should be or whether a streetcar project is even needed, is rehashed at the environmental assessment."

Can you imagine, high-priced environmental lawyers might lose out on some work.

WE MAY BE LUCKY TO GET EVEN A "CHEAP SOLUTION" SOON

There goes Premier McGinty crying crocodile tears again about money and asking the Federal Government to help out. If he keeps going on like this, then he and Minister of Finance, Dwight Duncan, will be thrilled at our Mayor's attitude so that they can blame the Mayor when the Province pulls out of Windsor. Our "cheap" solution may become "no" solution thanks to Eddie!

  • "Ontario is the ``economic engine'' of Canada and needs a federal government that will help the province muscle through the uncertain economic times that lie ahead, Premier Dalton McGuinty said in laying out his wish list for the upcoming federal budget...

    Investments in public transit and the Windsor border crossing are also crucial to ensuring people and goods can move swiftly, McGuinty said. The $17.5-billion cost of expanding public transit in the Greater Toronto Area alone shows the province can't do it without help, he added.

    ``If I had to sum it up to one thing: we want a partner,'' McGuinty said."

Howdy pardner. I know that the Feds have ponied up $400 million for the border road but I don't remember seeing the Province ante up any money. They just keep on pleading poverty. Oh I forgot, the $500M Gong Show money after 2010 from Dwight!

I can just see the showdown at the O.K. Corral at High Noon if there is a Federal election and the Provincial Liberals decide to take on the Conservatives who are looking for a majority government federally.